A dear blog reader posted this song for me! HERO by Mariah Carey. I wrote this back: “If there was ever a movie of my story, this would be the theme song!!! I am just getting to the point in the story when I am seven and we are ‘going up’ that Alaskan mountain – I was SO SAD, and in Mother’s letters, what does she say? That of course Linda was ‘poking’ up the mountain! In knee deep mud, over ice, in deep snow — little me with the broken heart was TOO SLOW???? Oh my GOSH!!”
One of the ‘blocks of thinking’ I am doing right now in my pause in the book writing process (short pause – but needed to consolidate what I am learning along the way – and that is A LOT of important information about myself) is that as I work on my story I am finding myself. On first glance that might not appear to be such a big deal, but to me it is!! The simplest way to describe what’s going on for me right now is that as I locate myself in the story of my childhood – using my abusive mother’s own words as she wrote them in letters to her own mother over the time span of my childhood – I am really finding a little girl ME frozen in time, space and place.
Just FROZEN, standing at different points along the time line of my own life where trauma intercepted my own experience of being a child so profoundly that I never got to connect my own experience of life with ME! My MOTHER’S version of reality was forced upon me as my own. Like a little bug caught in a drop of tree sap that turned into amber and trapped me there, each memory I have of myself in my own early years lies caught, trapped and frozen into a piece of ME – one memory after another.
This is very hard to explain to someone who never had a severely mentally ill extremely abusive parent! These continual brutal and brutalizing interruptions of my child life by each traumatic attack of me created a dissociation between me and my own experience of being a child – of being a person.
I FELT it last week when I had my first-ever piano lesson! I felt exactly six-years old! I felt that happy, that excited, that hopeful – and as I practice now, as I experience the THRILL OF LEARNING itself and begin to realize the music can flow right out of MY fingertips – well, this is a kind of ecstasy that SHOULD have been my right to know all the way through my childhood – and my entire life!
THIS feeling is real.
Yesterday, thanks to a generous so-sweet gift from one of my sisters who gave me the money to buy one – I saw a very nice used bicycle at a second hand store and BOUGHT IT! I rode another child’s bike when I was nine years old. Never since then. I bet when my bike is delivered and I hop onto its seat, put my feet on those pedals and fly away that I will experience the BODY memory of being nine years old.
True, nothing along the way has specifically STOPPED me from gathering piano playing or bike riding into my repertoire of life today (I will soon be 60). But there is something ELSE going on for me as I find myself in my own childhood story.
I am doing exactly THAT! As I free my childhood from the terrible grip of trauma I am in some mysterious way running my life backwards. The other day when I was writing I crossed through time over being in second grade. Those experiences are written in the book, and there are little things I remember that have NOTHING to do with my mother. I am the one who scooped my much-hated cold canned peas off of my lunch tray one day and stuffed them into my empty milk carton. I am the one the matriarch Principal saw doing that. I am the one she marched right up to demanding that I dump them out and eat every last one of them as she stood behind me and watched.
I am the one who heard in the background the continual repeating of two songs on a 45 rpm record that played every single lunch period of my second grade – over and over and over again – all year long! I am the one who was in that body. And what happened to me in my body all the times IN BETWEEN my own experiences of being myself in my body in my childhood INTERRUPTED my ability to link my own experiences together into a long line that includes and leads to ME in my life now.
I am the one that got to go on a train trip along the ocean when I was seven because a neighbor (a Brownie scout leader) offered to take me. My mother let me go because at the moment the question was asked she found no way to save face in front of this neighbor and say “No!” I have never forgotten that day! At the destination end of the train trip we were escorted into a ski lodge, a grand room with towering ceilings, round tables, pulled-out chairs for all the little girls to sit on.
I am the one that was in that little body and can remember sitting my bottom on that chair, scooting it in toward the table, running my finger tips over the patterns of the large round white paper lace doily on the table in front of me. I am the one whose eyes saw that perfect yellow pear and picked it up from the doily. I had never seen a real pear before, never held one in the palm of my hand. The pear FILLED my hand it was so big! No. Wait. It filled my hand because I was so small!
I’ve always had the memory of that sweet drippy yellow tasting pear. I know it was strangely gritty!! I rolled the grit around in my mouth with my tongue and thought about how different this fruit was from an apple. (It certainly didn’t crunch!) I am the one who has always remembered this day as one of the few happy highlight moments of my childhood.
But it is only as I pull my own self, my own experience, my own childhood, my own LIFE as a child out of the grip my mother had on me ALWAYS that I am FEELING my own self in my own body – then and NOW – and the dissociation, the continual dissociation that the brutal violence from my mother caused me, is beginning to heal in amazing ways.
I sit at the piano now and in my body I can FEEL me being the same me I was holding that pear. These are the SAME hands that touched that doily. These are the SAME eyes looking at this computer screen that watched the ocean pass under me as I stared down out of that train window, so close were the tracks to the edge of the ocean.
This is FELT EXPERIENCE – ongoing FELT experience. I can’t describe any more of this right now, but I just wanted to mention how putting my story together is so different from anything I have ever done before – and it is wonderful! I keep having the thought, “So THIS is what it was supposed to be like! So THIS is what all that continual 18 years of abuse robbed from me!” Being a child, experiencing one’s self in one’s own life as a continuous pattern of being in the world all the way through, all the way through to adulthood — nobody stealing 99 moments out of every 100, leaving one with only one lonely moment, one out of every 100 moments, that belonged to the child.
Every time my mother attacked me she created a rift, a hole, a breach and a break in my own ongoing experience of me being me.
Every time she attacked me trauma took over MY life. MY childhood. MY ongoing experience of doing what I was born to do: Be a child who was experiencing herself in her life, learning, playing, learning, growing, being loved and being kindly and wisely guided and chaperoned through my formative years.
This is NOT reparenting to me. This is like taking a giant Pink Pearl eraser and erasing out those 99 moments of hell and ONLY leaving the ONE pure moment of ME being a child. As those 99 moments of my MOTHER’S hell are erased out of MY life I can scoot together every one of my own memories, my own childhood experiences of goodness and purity and make MY OWN story of MY OWN self clear to me — THEN and NOW.
As ‘attachment experts’ state, it is the loss of the ability to tell a coherent narrative of one’s own life story that is the #1 symptom of insecure attachment disorders due to traumatic unsafe and insecure relationships with those we depended on when we were little.
Going back and healing my STORY is healing ME! Better get back to my task now!! Will keep you posted!
NOTE: All I really need to know right now is that I am turning the black and white NEGATIVE of my severely abusive infancy and childhood into a POSITIVE. As I erase the 99 moments of every 100 that belonged to MY MOTHER and HER story and that had NOTHING whatsoever to do with ME, during those 99 moments all I need to know about myself right now is that I endured them with goodness because I was BEING a HERO.